Think back to episode 6 of Doctor Who‘s twelfth season, “Praxeus,” which aired a couple of weekends ago. The climax saw ex-cop Jake decide to pilot a damaged spaceship around the Earth in order to disseminate the antidote to the deadly Praxeus alien virus. The tragic thing is he had no way to escape and was destined to be destroyed along with the vessel. Things took a happy turn, however, when the Doctor used the TARDIS to materialize around him and save him at the last millisecond before the ship exploded.
This happy ending was praised by many, of course, as it allowed Jake to reunite with his husband Adam, giving the show some positive LGBT representation. However, other fans with long memories took issue with how this seems to call back to a major death from the classic series that the Time Lord was unable to avert.
We’re talking about the demise of poor Adric, the Fifth Doctor’s companion. In 1982’s “Earthshock,” the Cybermen had hijacked a space freighter that they wanted to use to plow into the Earth. While his friends escaped, Adric stuck aboard the vessel in an attempt to prevent its destruction. He run out of time, however, when the ship – which was also jumping through time – crashed into a Prehistoric Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs in the process.
Given that the Doctor owns a time machine, fans have often wondered why he couldn’t have used it to safely retrieve Adric before it crashed. And “Praxeus” brought all those 40-year-old feelings back up again.
— ɢᴀᴠɪɴ ⌬ (@gavinworby) February 2, 2020
So, the Doc can save a bloke she’s just met but not one of her old best friends?
i wonder how Adric would feel about the Doctor saving that random dude from the exploding spaceship 👀
— Zoey (@MistressOfNull) February 2, 2020
— Dean Stephenson (@DeanBStephenson) February 2, 2020
To be fair, there is an explanation given in “Earthshock” itself. The Cybermen shoot the TARDIS console at an earlier point in the story, meaning the Doctor can’t navigate to the ship, which again is traveling through time itself, in time to save Adric. Of course, this only works as an immediate explanation. Having a time machine, the Doctor should be able to go back any time at a later date and rescue the boy genius. Eh, maybe they planned on doing that at some point but just forgot?
Doctor Who season 12 continues Sundays on BBC One/America.